Dress to Impress: Resume Design

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When I was assigned this article, I knew that there couldn’t be a better candidate for a makeover than my own resume. I’ve had different types of professional and academic experiences, but instead of rearranging my resume for each new job application, I’d simply listed everything under general headings. I had some vague pride about my resume being “full.” I recently showed my resume to my boyfriend, and he was horrified. “That’s your resume?” he asked. “That’s just a list.” Needless to say I was defensive—hey, it’s been getting the job done—but Mark Carolino, a career development counselor at the NYU Wasserman Center, set me straight. Here are five tips that he gave me:

Use Your GPA

You’re supposed to put your GPA on your resume. I always thought that would be seen as kind of tacky, but employers want you to lay all your cards on the table (who knew?) and will be impressed by anything above a 3.0. Have a GPA below a 3.0? “Work to get it above a 3.0!” says Carolino. Perhaps easier said than done, but regardless good advice.

Highlight Your Assets

It seems like resume design requires the same skills as dressing oneself. It’s all about covering up your, er, weak spots, and highlighting your strengths. Carolino says that using italics or bold is a great way to make your education and experience stand out. Also, horizontal stripes make you look fat.

Make Headings More Specific

Most of my experience is in publishing, so Carolino suggested that I change “Work Experience” to “Publishing Experience” or “Editorial Experience.” Why? “This helps to tailor your resume to the job,” he says, “and shows an employer right away that you have significant relevant experience.”

Include Descriptions

Generally, you want to have 2-5 sentences or bullets that describe your duties and accomplishments at a given internship, job or volunteer opportunity. You want to phrase these in “action + result format.” This can be hard, especially if most of your action + result sentences would read something like: “I laid the paper on the glass and pressed ‘copy.’ Copies were made. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” I haven’t attempted this structure on my own resume yet because of this very issue, but try on your own.

Tailor Your Resume

Each job is different—or at least some of them are—so have a few versions on hand. This will make it easier to apply quickly yet efficiently to a variety of jobs, especially upon graduation.




Does your resume need a facelift, too? Send your resume to [email protected], subject “Resume Makeover.”

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